In a recent New Yorker I read about how New York City is replacing all of its sodium-vapor streetlights with LEDs. Feelings are mixed about the move. The old lights glow hazy orange; the new ones blaze blue. I’ve read that, among other things, the old encouraged crime, and the new are causing anxiety with their brightness.
It’s clear that the LEDs will literally cast the city in a new light; they will alter its character. This is no small thing, in my opinion. The appearances of things are not static, and light has so much to do with it.
I’m always happy to have an excuse to remember one of my favorite poems of all time, Lisel Mueller’s Monet Refuses the Operation, in which the purpose of distinguishing the edges of things is brought into question:
…I will not return to a universe
of objects that don’t know each other
as if islands were not the lost children
of one great continent…